JEDDAH: The US Embassy in Riyadh and its consulates general in Jeddah and Dhahran announced the reopening of routine nonimmigrant visa services in limited numbers as of March 1.
“The health and safety of our workforce and customers remains paramount. We continue to implement safeguards to keep staff and customers safe. Due to these measures, visa appointments are extremely limited and subject to change. The consular sections advise applicants to schedule appointments only when they have made tentative travel plans, but prior to the final purchase of travel,” the embassy said in a press statement.
It added that mission consular sections will continue to prioritize US citizen services, as well as immigrant, student and emergency nonimmigrant visas.
Travelers can schedule appointments for a range of nonimmigrant visa categories online at ustraveldocs.com/sa/sa-niv-visaapply.asp.
In March 2020, former US President Donald Trump ordered the temporary suspension of all “routine visa services” provided through US embassies and consulates in foreign countries and in the US.
“Embassies and consulates will cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20,” the US State Department said at the time. “As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide urgent and emergency visa services.”
Nada Al-Shingiti, a 27-year-old Saudi senior physiotherapy student, was relieved to hear the news, as she plans on continuing her higher education in the US.
“I felt relieved because the US is one of my top choices to continue my studies. And for them to reopen — the opportunity was very good for me and my family,” she told Arab News. “I’m really happy about it.”
Al-Shingiti will begin applying for her US visa within three months and hopes to have university interviews within six months to a year.
“Opening this for us — especially students — feels great, because we have been sort of put on hold,” said the student.
The reopening of student visas also gives medicine students a better opportunity to find jobs once they return to the Kingdom after completing their higher education, she added.
“Jobs here are not really open for people with only a bachelor’s degree, specifically people who are in the medical field, and opening visas means that we can further our chances to have jobs here.”